In the second of our In Your Studio series, composer and sound designer Pasi Pitkänen tells us about his software and hardware setups, his favourite products and the types of music and sounds he produces.
If you’d like to take part in the ‘In Your Studio’ series, and bag yourself a free sample library, find out how at the end of the interview.
Over to Pasi…
My name is Pasi Pitkänen and I’m more than just a man from Finland with video game and movie addictions. I’m also a professional composer and sound designer with versatility and passion.
I started to compose music with tracker software in the late 90’s. During those years, I experimented a lot and created songs in various musical genres, ranging from electronic to rock. I also played the hell out of my acoustic drum kit and bass guitar. Along the way I found the inspiration to create sound effects, which enables me to take my ‘composer hat’ off and just focus on the sound effects. I find that this really helps me to keep things fresh and exciting, so every day is different.
It is hard to describe the type of music that I produce because it varies from one project to another. I think clients get in touch with me because I can produce high quality music in a variety of genres. I’m quite happy with this, as it allows me to experiment with different instruments and styles and then blend them together to create something new and exciting. Most of my clients tend to ask for either orchestral or contemporary styles, so I guess those two would be my specialities.
When I’m not creating audio content for projects, I tend to practice my craft. I either compose songs in styles, that I have not explored yet or I will just pick up my microphone, go out and record the world.
What’s your choice of DAW and why?
My choice for DAW is Cubase 5.5 64bit. Cubase was one of the first DAW’s that I used and I just got accustomed to it. I have also used Pro Tools and Logic a lot but I keep going back to Cubase because it just fits perfectly with my way of working and it has all these great MIDI functions that I use to make my music breathe and really come to life. I really like the plug-ins that Cubase offers too. I often find myself using the compressor and the more experimental plug-ins, so I can spice things up a little bit.
Which plug-ins and sample libraries do you use?
I have a vast collection of sample libraries that I have bought from different sample library developers. Almost all of my libraries run inside Native Instruments Kontakt, which is my go-to sampler. Here is a “short” list of the libraries that I use frequently:
LA Scoring Strings Lite
LA Scoring Strings First Chair
Drums of War 1
Evolve Mutation 1 & 2
My go-to reverb is ValhallaRoom by ValhallaDSP. It is just amazing how versatile, great sounding and easy to use ValhallaRoom is. It also comes with a good set of presets, and I have to say that the presets made by Den are just phenomenal! Here is a small tip:
1. Load up an instrument of your choice
2. Load up ValhallaRoom and choose the Bladerunner preset
3. Before you hit the first notes, make sure to clear your schedule for that day.. You have been warned! 😀
When it comes to mixing and mastering my music and sound effects, I regularly use Fabfilter’s Mastering Bundle, which consists of an equalizer (Pro-Q), compressor (Pro-C) and a limiter (Pro-L). I discovered these plug-ins earlier this year and they instantly became part of my workflow. They sound great, are easy to use and they look gorgeous too! I also have Izotope’s Ozone software, which I use on occasion to do a little bit of mastering, so that the tracks will sound even better and stand out.
Of these, which do you rank among your Top 3 and why?
This is a hard one.. I guess my first choice would be Omnisphere by Spectrasonics. Omnisphere is a really powerful synth even in not so capable hands such as mine. The massive 40GB+ core library has a lot of great sounding sound sources that you can synthesize/ tweak to your liking and you also get a huge amount of presets, which will definitely keep you busy and spark inspiration!
My second choice would be Symphobia by ProjectSAM. Symphobia is the backbone of my orchestral template along with Spitfire Albion, which blends really well with it. One of the best things in Symphobia is the Hollywood sound that you get out of the box. All the ensemble sections (strings, woodwinds, brass) sound great and when you add a hint of ValhallaRoom reverb to the tail, the sound is just gorgeous. The other thing that makes Symphobia great is that it is easy to use. You can basically just load up a patch and start playing melodic lines, which sound pretty realistic without much tweaking or hassle. When you have projects with short deadlines it is good to have a library like this under your fingertips.
Last but not definitely the least is my newest sample library acquisition Spitfire Percussion by Spitfire Audio. This percussion library was recorded at Air Studios, Lyndhurst Hall, which is one of the greatest scoring stages in the world and you can really hear it in the samples when you start playing with the patches. When you combine the high quality recordings and programming with the sound of Lyndhurst Hall, you get this amazing sound out of the box, that will instantly reward you and spark inspiration. On top of all this, every instrument in the library is deeply sampled with up to 8 round robins and 8 dynamics per note, so you get more realistic performances out of your samples.
What’s your hardware set-up?
I’m currently planning to update my desktop computer, but my hardware specs right now are these:
- Desktop computer
- Intel Q9550 quad-core processor
- 8GB of RAM
- 1TB of HDD 7200rpm for samples
- Intel i7 2630QM quad-core processor
- 8GB of RAM
- 128GB SSD
- 1TB external USB3.0 HDD for samples
My weapon of choice for the soundcard is the brilliant Roland Octa-Capture. This has been one of my best buys in years. One of the best things in Octa-Capture is the Auto-Sens function. It automatically sets the input level for each channel, so basically all you have to do is press a button, supply sound input, and the built-in DSP will analyze the sound and set the optimum input level. This function is an absolute time-saver, when I’m recording live instruments or creating sound effects.
I also have a small collection of microphones, which I use for recording various stuff either in the studio or on location. Two of my favourite microphones are Røde NTG-2 and Røde NT1-A, which are not that expensive but the quality/price ratio is great. I’m planning to update my mobile recording kit with more microphones and with a good mobile recorder too.
What are your musical ambitions for the future?
I will keep on learning new things every day and of course try to have fun while doing it. My main goal is to pursue a career in the game industry and someday make a living out of creating music and sound effects for video games.
My other goal is to further develop a website called ‘The Audio Spotlight‘, which my friend Zdravko Djordjević and I founded earlier this year. The Audio Spotlight is a hub that highlights composers and sound designers around the world, provides you with behind the scenes footage from game and film industry and keeps you up-to-date with the latest sample libraries and job opportunities.
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